A day in the life of a school psychologist

May 14, 2015 by

Julia Proctor – Behavioural difficulties, anger management, friendship issues: it’s all part of a day’s work for school psychologist Rosie Cannataro.

Rosie Cannataro​, 43, is a psychologist based in Melbourne’s north-west. She works three days a week across two primary schools assisting students with issues that affect their learning or their wellbeing at school. This can be anything from assessing students’ learning to see what support they can be offered, to counselling students who are experiencing emotional difficulties.

8.30am – Arrive at school and meet with my school contact, in this case the school wellbeing coordinator. We talk through new referrals, children they think I should see. We also talk about where I am with current referrals. Typically I am working with six to 10 children in a school at a time but ahead of a funding round, I will get an influx of new referrals. Today we discuss an application for funding that we need to finish for a student with severe behavioural problems.

9.30am – Meet with a parent. This parent is very willing to talk about their child. Parents are normally one of two types – they are either very willing to talk or come with an attitude they are not sure where this is coming from. I tell the parent what I plan to do and they give verbal consent for me to continue.

10.15am – I like to schedule educational assessments for the morning when children tend to be more alert. I collect the child from his classroom. Today it’s a younger child and he is very happy to be there. It’s like he’s excited to be chosen. We go to my room and start talking. I ask him about what he likes to do and try and establish a rapport. I then tell him we’re going to be doing lots of activities. I don’t tell him it’s an IQ test. We do tests for verbal and perceptual ability, working memory and processing speed.

11am – Recess. I go to the staff room. I know most of the people and feel quite comfortable. I have been in schools when I walk into the staff room and I don’t know where to sit. It can be quite daunting.

11.30am – I finish off the cognitive assessment and spend 30 minutes scoring it.

12.15pm – Start my counselling work. Younger children tend to be happy to see me but some of the older children, particularly the boys, tend to be more hesitant. Today I see a little girl who is having difficulties with friendships. We get to know each other and talk about what makes a friendship. She loves to draw and talk and is very open.

1pm – I bring my lunch to my room and work on reports. An educational assessment can take between three to six hours to write up. The paperwork can be quite taxing but it’s part of my role.

2pm – See an older child who is having difficulties with anger management. We work on expressing feelings. The child is quite reserved but engages and offers ideas.

2.45pm – Write up notes. I keep a confidential file for each referral.

3.35pm – Meet with the teacher whose child I did the cognitive assessment on this morning. Talk her through what I found and make suggestions about what she can do.

4.30pm – Back at the central office I share with other psychologists and speech pathologists. Just going back there, having a cup of coffee, talking about the day is an informal way of debriefing. If I have a question, there’s always someone there to ask. I write up reports.

5.30pm – Time to leave. I use the time in the car to think about the day. There are times when I feel emotionally attached to a child. It can be hard to turn off your human side. I make sure I switch off before I pick up my own kids.

Source: A day in the life of a school psychologist

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.